Angelina Jolie’s brave step to undergo a preventative mastectomy has generated a huge surge in the number of high-risk women who attended the Genesis Prevention Centre choosing to have the procedure, according to Genesis’ researchers.
The findings, published in a letter to Breast Cancer Research authored by professor of clinical genetics at Genesis, Gareth Evans, show that the number of bilateral risk-reducing mastectomies performed after consultation at the clinic more than doubled from January 2014 to June 2015.
It’s not the first time Professor Evans has looked at the impact of the Hollywood star’s mastectomy. His previous research showed that the high-profile announcement led to an increase in the number of women being referred for genetic screening.
This time, Professor Evans looked at the number of women undergoing the procedure following consultation at the Nightingale Centre and Genesis Prevention Centre. He studied two 18-month periods after January 2011 and January 2013, finding a clear upward trend in the number of preventative surgeries carried out in the period after Angelina’s announcement.
The increase covers both women who carry mutations in the BRCA gene, like Angelina Jolie, and those who are considered high risk due to a family history of the disease, or other lifestyle indicators. In the 18 months following January 2014, the majority of women undergoing surgery were not mutated gene carriers. However, in the first six months of 2015, women with mutated genes accounted for around half of all preventative mastectomies and, of those, three quarters were having surgery more than 18 months after testing positive. This suggests that women who had previously decided not to undergo risk-reducing surgery changed their minds after hearing of the actress’ brave decision.
While preventative surgery is the most effective way that very high risk women can reduce their chances of developing breast cancer, it is not the answer for everyone. Cancer-preventing drugs, such as tamoxifen, and certain lifestyle changes, like a healthy diet and more exercise, are alternative options which many women may consider and do succesfully.
Here at Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention, we’re pleased to see such an increase in the number of women who are most at risk taking the necessary steps to minimise the chances of the disease developing.
More information on the research can be viewed here.